Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Former Lord Provost Eric Milligan in Edinburgh trams regret

Edinburgh Tram Image copyright Ian Georgeson

One of Edinburgh's best known councillors said he wished the city's trams project had never happened.

Eric Milligan has been a councillor in the city for 40 years.

An official inquiry into the project is investigating the delays, cost overruns, redesigns, delivery, governance and management.

The Labour councillor, who was lord provost for seven years, said with the benefit of hindsight the scheme should not have gone ahead.

The trams were originally designed to run for 15 miles from Edinburgh Airport to Leith by 2011, at a cost of £375m.

Image copyright City of Edinburgh Council
Image caption Eric Milligan was Edinburgh's lord provost between 1996 and 2003

But a truncated nine-mile service, stopping in the city centre, opened in 2014, at a cost of £776m - with interest charges expected to push the final bill to about £1bn.

It was under Labour that proposals for trams were first developed. However it was not until a Lib Dem/SNP coalition from 2007 that the plans began to be executed.

The trams project then ran on through 2012 when a Labour/SNP coalition was elected.

Mr Milligan was Edinburgh's lord provost between 1996 and 2003.

Speaking to Stephen Jardine on BBC Radio Scotland, Mr Milligan said: "If all of us knew then what we know now and how difficult, how expensive and how limited the system is we probably would not have gone ahead.

"It is important that we complete what was intended between the airport and the sea port and we revitalise the waterfront area."

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